For plain roasted squash omit the topping. This dish can be served warm or at room temperature. For the best texture it’s important to remove the fibrous flesh just below the squash’s skin.
1 large (2 1/2- to 3-pound) butternut squash
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (1/3 cup)
1/3 cup pecans, toasted and chopped coarse
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1. FOR THE SQUASH: Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Using sharp vegetable peeler or chef’s knife, remove skin and fibrous threads from squash just below skin (peel until squash is completely orange with no white flesh remaining, roughly 1/8 inch deep). Halve squash lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Place squash, cut side down, on cutting board and slice crosswise 1/2 inch thick.
2. Toss squash with melted butter, salt, and pepper until evenly coated. Arrange squash on rimmed baking sheet in single layer. Roast squash until side touching sheet toward back of oven is well browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Rotate sheet and continue to bake until side touching sheet toward back of oven is well browned, 6 to 10 minutes. Remove squash from oven and use metal spatula to flip each piece. Continue to roast until squash is very tender and side touching sheet is browned, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
3. FOR THE TOPPING: While squash roasts, stir maple syrup and cayenne together in small bowl.
4. Transfer squash to large serving platter. Drizzle maple mixture evenly over squash. Sprinkle with goat cheese, pecans, and thyme and serve.